Our Journey to Bring Our Son Home . . .

October 17, 2009

Moving Along . . .

Fall is finally here in Florida, and we look forward to celebrating all the upcoming holidays as a family of five. Check out Brett's progress with his prosthesis since September!

October 11, 2009

All I Want for Christmas . . .

As many of you know, the adults in our family don't buy each other Christmas presents. Instead, we put our resources together to travel to be with each other. This year, I'm asking for a gift from anyone able to help. Please consider providing the healthy start so many orphans need. New Day provides opportunities, surgeries, therapy, the chance of a forever family, and the love these children need. Unfortunately, the needs of the children brought to New Day weren't always met in their home orphanages. New Day is trying to help other orphanages who might otherwise use watered-down milk, sugar water, or cheaper formula from unreliable companies. I'd be honored for friends and family to make a donation to New Day's Milk fund on behalf of Brett's family.


September 12, 2009

The other side of the world

Brett brought home his leg yesterday. We look forward to practicing as much as possible this weekend before returning for more therapy/training next week. Knowing Brett's strong will, he will master this. We were told it could take 6 months to a year to master the walking. If so, no problem; he has waited three years for this. Right now, he is just excited to show off his new addition!

I've been up a couple of hours reflecting how God has led us to this point. The email with Brett's picture that started the journey all the way to this day. I also know how different Brett's life would be in China. Why the deep thoughts at 3am? Take a look at New Day's latest arrival.

What a cutie! Please lift up Samuel in your prayers that he will be given an opportunity to experience the same blessings that have been provided for Brett.

New Day Web Site

September 11, 2009

Ten toes . . .

Not many adoptive parents of toddlers have the joy of witnessing first steps. On Wednesday, my eyes filled with tears as I watched Brett stand on two legs for the first time. On Thursday he managed a step or two by swinging his hips. As most of you know, Brett has no femur so his fittings thus far have included many adjustments. Brett’s prosthesis is not the simplest so we feel very blessed to be working with one of the best teams in the world. We can’t say enough about Stan Patterson and his team. They are still working on some changes to Brett’s leg. He tends to slip out of his liner at the top since he has no real “stump” so to speak. We are traveling daily right now for PT in the leg. I’m not sure at what point he will become proficient enough to bring it home. Needless to say, we are all excited!
Otherwise, Brett is adjusting well. He goes to preschool a couple mornings a week at our church. It didn’t take long for his teachers to realize he is a real charmer. Even Chloe has come around with her “approval” of Brett (most of the time). We want to thank everyone for their support and prayers. We apologize for the lack of updating lately.

July 25, 2009

We are a family of five! Brett has been home for two weeks today and is adjusting well. We apologize for not posting earlier, but the adjustment to the time zone along with Vacation Bible School, visitors, etc. have kept us busy. I’ll also let you know that I’m not much of a blogger at home, but I’ll try to send out an email updating everyone once in awhile. If you’re interested in receiving email updates, please just leave a comment or email me.

Brett continues to be a happy, healthy little boy. Actually, he is a good size three year old by American standards. The doctors have all been impressed with his health and strength (Thank you New Day!). Brett will be casted one week from Monday to begin the process of building his prosthetic leg. His is a complicated case as he has no bone/stump, so it will likely take some adjustments over some time. We are excited to get him upright, but in the meantime, he has no problems keeping up with his sisters. Abigail loves caring for Brett and playing the role of the Big Sister. Chloe is taking on the traditional Little Sister role and aggravating him to death. Brett is a wonderful brother, tackling the girls, smothering them with kisses, and playing jokes on them. All in all, everything is as it should be.

Brett has become good buddies with our God Son, Addison, and a couple of kids at church. Funny story: Within minutes of meeting Addison at the airport, Brett continuously pointed out that Addison only has one eye. Never occurred to Brett that he looks a little different also. I just love the perspective of a child! We've also enrolled Brett in preschool three mornings a week for the fall, and he is currently enjoying going to church and VBS. He loves anything with wheels and even uses a dump truck given to him by his Papa as a scooter. His smile can brighten anyone's day and his sweet heart melts for any baby or child in distress. He continues to be a Mama's boy, to the extend that Russ can get into trouble if he holds my hand or kisses me. We're working on this, but I have to admit, it's a little cute!

Above all, we are thankful God has blessed us with the perfect child again. Our family, friends, and church have all surrounded us to welcome Brett into our lives and make him feel at home. I wish everyone could have seen Brett on stage at our church this week singing with all his friends from Vacation Bible School. He loved the music and crafts all week.

July 9, 2009

Leaving China

We spent our last day in China exploring the "real" China off the island. We strolled through a pet and medicinal market filled with unknown and exotic scents, sounds, and sights. You could purchase any animal known to man, living or deceased. We then took our oath at the Consulate and picked up Brett's visa. We are now packed and ready to head home.

To be completely honest, we can't wait to land in Orlando, hug our girls, and introduce our new son to our family and friends. We miss ice in our glasses, soft beds, and the ability to eat raw vegetables. We leave early tomorrow morning to begin the long plan ride home.

We must also admit that there is a sadness each time we leave China. We not only leave the land but also leave our children's beginnings. We can't help but wonder what their lives would have been like here. We hope to build beautiful memories of their homeland and the people who cared for them. Tomorrow morning our hearts will be filled with mixed emotions as we close one chapter to begin a new one, but China will be forever in our hearts until we return. One cannot visit China or more specifically an orphanage in China without being forever changed.

July 8, 2009

July 7th and 8th

These photos and video really do show Brett's true personality. We can't get over his sweet nature and energized spirit. He is all boy, and we're loving every minute.

Yesterday we spent the day swimming and shopping. By the afternoon, Brett was tired and wired. Hoping that the "tired" side would win, we spent over an hour trying to fall asleep at nap time. With no luck, we then prepared for the famous red couch photos. Picture a tired three year old with no nap. Now, button up that cute, slim shirt around his well fed neck. Needless to say, Brett wasn't as excited as we were for the Red Couch photos. We ended the evening in our comfy pajamas, eating in our room, watching Curious George, and playing with Brett's new airplane. He was then all smiles until he passed out.

Today our guide delivered our paperwork to the consulate. Tomorrow we will go to the US consulate to take the oath and pick up Brett's visa. We enjoyed our last free day in Guangzhou playing in the play room, swimming, and exploring the island. Russ had a massage in the hotel to relieve his stiff neck. He came back with sore shoulders, commenting that the masseuse's elbows dug several inches into his back. I then ventured out to the Chinese Clinic to get a foot massage. 90 minutes for $10, this was the best bargain in China.

Well, we will try to post one more time before we leave. We are extremely anxious to get home and see our girls. We have been Skyping with them daily. Although I have to fight the tears each day, it has helped to see them healthy and happy with the grandparents and Aunt Jen. We miss them so, along with our friends and family. We thank God for all of them. Without them, this journey would have been impossible.

July 6, 2009

Our Son

We visited the pearl market this morning and purchased a pendant, something we have in mind for a future daughter-in-law. (If we don't like her, it will be for Mommy!) We then spent much of the day playing in the play room and walking around the island. This afternoon we had Brett's TB test checked. Luckily, his results were negative but a couple other families in our travel group were not so fortunate and had to stay for x-rays to clear their children. We then headed to the pool, where Brett had a blast splashing Mommy and Daddy.

Here are a few things we've learned about our son:
-He loves his Mommy and Daddy, but does not like if Mommy leaves the room. He has been giving kisses freely to Mommy for some time, but Daddy even rates a few now.
-His head turns for any pretty woman.
-He loves to eat tomatoes, yogurt drinks, Dim Sum, french fries, and chicken nuggets.
-He sucks his pointer finger when he sleeps.
-He can now say, "Excuse me," when he belches louder than any adult man.
-He is the most curious kid, always asking questions and wanting to share his new knowledge with anyone who will listen.
-He is amazingly sweet and loving. We just finished putting hydrocortisone on some bug bites when he noticed a freckle on Mommy's back. He insisted on putting medicine on Mommy too and kissing it better.
-He can sweet talk anyone out of something. He leaves every store with "free" gifts and has talked several waitresses into bringing him something special at restaurants.
-Best of all, he is perfect for our family. We love his mischievous smile and sweet little voice.

July 5, 2009

Free day in Guangzhou

Last night and today, we spent some wonderful time with two of the many people that were sponsoring Brett at New Day Foster Home. Michael and Connie live in Hong Kong and work between Hong Kong and Beijing. They took a train into Guangzhou to spend time with us and Brett. Michael and Connie showed an incredible love for Brett that we will barely be able to convey to him down the road. As Cindy and I have traveled down this adoption road, Michael's and Connie's love for Brett are just two of many people of Brett's "red thread" of life. To all of those people who have either directly taken care of Brett or have supported Brett at either Jiazuo or at New Day, Cindy and I want to express our sincere thanks, knowing that words alone will never be enough.

As for the other events of the day, it was spent doing a little shopping, and then having dinner with most of our travel group as the Cow and Bridge Thai Restaurant. We have now successfully managed to put Brett into both the "hip hammock" and backpack carrier. This should save both of our backs going forward until Brett is either using arm crutches or his new leg.

As for now, as I write this post, Cindy is trying to put Brett to sleep. Brett did not nap today even though he said he was tired and wanted to nap. After Skyping with family tonight Brett has managed to fight off the urge to go to sleep. Cindy was laying down with him, and when she though he was asleep, she got up - and then so did Brett. All I can say is that the boy is a complete mess.

As I finish this post, Brett is now really asleep and soon so will Cindy and I.

July 4, 2009

Hello from Guangzhou

Sorry for skipping a day in our posts but we were traveling last night. We left Henan province at about 6:10 PM and arrived in Guangzhou at somewhere around 9PM. Brett did wonderful on the flight. The flight was a little bumpy at several points, and Brett did break down a little, but was easily comforted. Upon landing, he asked Grace, our guide, if he was now in the US. His nannies at New Day had been telling him how he would get on an airplane to go to the US and he thought this was that flight. Even the bus ride to the hotel was an uneventful ride. Brett was excited by the many cars and buses. However, once we got to the hotel and up to our room, Brett had a complete emotional meltdown. This was the first episode like this that Cindy had seen (I have been the unfortunate witness of two others where he wanted is Mama). With a little distraction from Abigail's and Chloe's "Ni Hao" video, he did calm down and settle into our room. 11:30PM and we were all asleep.

This morning was his medical exam, and Brett seems to have a pretty bad case of "White Coat Syndrome". This is likely due to a few visits to the hospital he has had. Again, Brett was a real trouper - he listened to the doctors and nurses and we made it out with only a few tears. Next was the immunizations - the Hague agreement required that all internationally adopted children be COMPLETELY up to date on their shots before they can leave their home country instead of catching up at home. With a big thanks to the staff at New Day, Brett was missing only one shot for chicken pox. The other test that is required by the US CDC is a TB test. Some wonderful politicians at some level in the US government didn't think that thess children had gone through enough in their young lives and require that they be TB tested before they can come into the US. Brett's bubble test will be read on Tuesday. Since some kids produce false positives, we pray his arm is clear.

Tonight, Cindy, Brett, and I will be meeting one of the people that were sponsoring Brett at New Day. They live in Hong Kong and will be taking the train into Guangzhou and having dinner with us tonight. We are excited to have the company and hear about their connection to our son.

July 2, 2009

Wrapping up in Henan

It is Friday morning here. Today is our last day in Henan, and we fly out to Guangzhou tonight. Yesterday was a quiet day filled with playing in our room, the play room, and a visit to the pool.

Brett continues to amaze us each day. He obviously received wonderful PT at New Day as he climbs everything! We spent much of the morning in the playroom with several of the families in our travel group. Brett enjoyed the ball pit and looking out the window at all the cars and buses. We practiced colors as the buses went by.

We then ventured to the pool and tried to entice Brett into the little pool. Although he was amused by Mommy splashing around, he was a little to overwhelmed by everything around to get in himself. We'll try again at the White Swan, hopefully with a few less sounds of people hacking up loogies in the pool!

Our only official business yesterday was to take Brett to the Office of Security for them to actually see his face before issuing his passport. Yesterday afternoon, he pointed to the computer and asked to talk to his sisters. He had to settle for pictures until the evening, as I'm sure Granny and Grandpa might not appreciate a call at 3am. We finished our evening with Skyping with family and friends and some songs at bed time.

We feel so blessed that Brett was well prepared by his nannies and staff at New Day. Considering he is three and we don't understand all he tries to communicate, we think his transition is going well. We also want to thank all our friends and family who are following along and sending us email or leaving comments. It can feel lonely sometimes here. If you venture out the hotel, you have to dodge the bicycle, motorcycles, and cars on the sidewalk. Nobody speaks English. We also have to look beyond the stares and pointing to Brett.

This morning we will exchange some money at the bank in preparation for Brett's physical in Guangzhou and do a little shopping to bring back some local art and items that represent Henan. Then, we're off to Shamian Island in Guangzhou, where the streets are safe. We will try to post again Saturday night.

July 1, 2009

Jiaozuo - A long day

We had a great morning playing in our room and the playroom. We also found the pool in the hotel. Brett was a little intimidated by the size of the lap pool, which was 6 lanes wide and 25 meters long. There is a smaller splash type pool on the far side of the pool, so I think that we might try the pool today, if Brett is ok with going back in there.

At lunch, I do believe that Brett was not very happy with our lunch selections. He was asking the waitress, in Chinese of course, for additional things to eat. He asked for items such as ice, shrimp, and fruit (several times). He is such a flirt and is open to making sure his wants are made clear. I wish that we could hire someone to come to the house twice a week to speak Mandarin with him. His pronunciation and vocabulary (according to the guide) are both very good.

As far as official tasks, our only item for the day was to travel to Jiazuo to have the adoption paperwork notarized. For some strange reason, this orphanage requires that the notary be done in the city where the orphanage is located and not in the capital city like the rest of the orphanages in this province. The ride to Jiaozuo was about 2 hours there and about 2 1/2 hours back due to traffic. The ride itself was very pretty with most of the land being agricultural use. The only problem was that the driver was falling asleep both ways. On the way back, all of us passengers kept a close eye on the driver, and when we was drifting off, we made several comments to our guide. The response back from the driver was that he was not asleep, that his eyes have small slits and it just looks like they were closed. We were not believing him.

On the ride home, we had the driver stop at McDonald's for dinner. That hamburger and fries were very good and were exactly like home.

After a few Skype calls with family where Brett was progressively getting more tired and rambunctious, we all went on to bed.

June 30, 2009

Adoption Day

Today we received our official adoption certificate. After a short ride to the Registrar's office and lunch, we attempted a nap again. We both laid down on a bed and Brett crawled up too. He immediately began sucking his finger, indicating he was tired, but soon spotted Thomas the Train on the floor and was down again. The good news is we had fun playing. We ended our afternoon with none other than a trip to Wal-Mart for supplies and drinks. Brett fell asleep on the bus ride and missed most of the excitement. Interesting to see the raw, unwrapped chicken on the ice tables for shoppers to pick up and the exotic dishes in the deli window. Most of the meats include either the head or feet still attached not to mention the entire pig hanging in the open air. Yummy!
It is near impossible not to fall in love with this little guy. He seems to capture the hearts of many with his smile and giggles. We ended our day with some PB&J and noodles in our room. Of course a bath followed and we pray for another great night of sleep.

June 29, 2009

Family Day - part 2

Brett adjusted well today. The highlights of his evening included having his footprint taken for our adoption paperwork, playing ball in the hallway with the other kids in our group, getting a bath, and Skyping with the grandparents and Uncle Scott and Aunt Melissa. (Sorry we woke you Melissa and Scott.) Brett is giving hugs, kisses, and saying quite a few English words. He seems to understand most of what we tell him between his English, our few Chinese phrases, and some sign language. We've learned he loves to look out windows, joke around, giggle, eat french fries, splash in the bath, suck his pointer finger during sleep, and just plain look cute!
We're adding a few more items for your viewing pleasure, but we are off to bed after one exciting day. Brett is peacefully sleeping as post this.
Good Night (Abigail, sorry we confused you about the night/day differences here.)

Brett's Family Day Part I

While I have a few minutes, I wanted to post a quick update. Russ will try to upload some video later tonight and fill in some details.
This morning we left the hotel around 9:40 to go to the Civil Affairs Office. Six of our eight families were receiving their children there. Four of the children arrived right away. We had to wait for almost an hour along with another family. Boy, I thought the last year was tough! Our guide called to check on their status and told us Brett was crying in the car. Why did she have to tell us that? Tears started right away as I knew he had been taken from his nanny at New Day. His home orphanage wanted to be the ones to deliver him to us.
Finally, the van pulled up, and Brett was hysterical. Poor little guy was overwhelmed without a familiar face. He went to me right away, and we calmed him down with our poor Chinese and some M&Ms. He even shared with us and anyone within arms reach.
After our quick reunion, we headed for the family photo for his adoption paperwork tomorrow and back to the hotel. By this time, Brett was over-stimulated by the noise and events from our walk home. Upon entering the room, he found his suitcase and proceeded to pick out a Cars shirt and underwear. (Addison, you have a buddy here!) We then played with every car and train in our suitcase until Russ got out the Bugles. Boy was Brett amused with food you could play with. He had a Bugle on each finger. We later ordered some noodles for Brett. He settled for a banana and french fries. Like Abigail, he loves ketchup and finished it off with a spoon. Better head to Sam's for Ketchup!
Nap time was a no-go. He became very upset and wanted out of the room. We decided a nap was not necessary today and started to sing ABCs. He sang right along with us until he noticed the phone. He has "pretend" called his sisters and half of his friends I am sure.
Brett has the sweetest voice, cutest laugh, and the biggest heart. No matter what he is eating, he tries to share. So far, he seems comfortable with both Russ and I. We hope this continues as he is one heavy boy to carry without a break. We'll try to get him on the scale later today.
We thank God this long journey has ended and pray for our new journey ahead of us. We look forward to updating more later. We are off for more paperwork. My apologies for any errors in this rushed post.

June 28, 2009

In Henan

We arrived safely in Henan yesterday afternoon. It is now 4:45 Monday morning, and we are already pacing the floor. We leave the hotel at 9:40 to head to the civil affairs office to receive Brett. We pray he had a good trip here, and the transition goes well. Next post will be more exciting!

June 27, 2009

Our Visit with Brett and New Day

Because of less than consistent Internet connections while at New Day, this post covers both Friday and Saturday.
Well, I’m not sure where to start. I guess the primary thing that everyone wants to know is that we meet Brett and were able to spend two days with him before the actual adoption. He is a very happy little boy, who is all boy. Needless to say, we are completely in love.
We meet Brett in his pre-school class and completely disrupted any teaching that was going on. In addition to Cindy and I, there was probably about 10-12 New Day employees and interns that either preceded us or followed us into Brett’s classroom so that they could see him meeting us. We brought about 20 coloring books and 12 horns for Brett to share with his classmates. Brett is an assume sharer. He handed out the coloring books and horns to everyone without much prompting. At first Brett really only sat with Cindy, but after I showed him the screen for the video camera, we became pals. After a little bit of play time, class started back up with music time. Brett and Cindy sat in the back row, both singing right along with the songs. Then the class moved on to snack time. Brett shared his animal crackers with both “Mama” and “Baba” – what a special moment. Next, Brett and I worked the lacing cards. When Brett and I turned lacing into a game to see if I could lace his hand and foot to the card, I really received some big smiles.
And now for the story that says that Brett is a true Bolton! Lunch was a very large pile of sweet and sour chicken that was intended for Cindy and I to split. Brett was allowed to sit with us and eat his lunch. When Brett saw the chicken, he handed Cindy his bowl of rice and said “For Mama” and then ate almost the full plate. Cindy and I only had a couple of bites.
The rest of the afternoon was spent playing in the playroom with all of the children of New Day. At the end of the day, we just wanted to bring all the children home with us. You just cannot imagine the love and dedication that the New Day staff has for the children.
Saturday was a simplified schedule for the children, and mostly consisted of play time, inside and out. We enjoyed watching Brett maneuver around the home, interacting with his friends, and the trust he showed in his nannies. Brett loves to help others. Each time his friend Liam needed a breathing treatment, Brett would hold his mask for him. He was often seen sharing his treats and checking on others. During his nap, we had the pleasure of spending some more time with the Brennenmans. They have led one amazing journey to New Day.
After a while playing with us, Brett would go check on his nanny. We were touched by the love he has been given here. When it was time for us to leave, Brett wanted to leave with us. Although it was hard to leave, we feel he knows who we are and has allowed us in his heart already. We can’t wait to hold him again Monday morning!

June 26, 2009

Message from Cindy

The sporadic internet connection at New Day is keeping Cindy and Russ from posting, but I got a brief message from her to pass along. They will post when they return to their hotel, so we should see an update by tomorrow.

From Cindy:

Brett is doing great. We just need an extra job to feed this boy! Addison and Kate will love him. He is ALL boy and very protective of others.

Sounds great! Now let's see that handsome guy!

Lucky Mama to Kate and Addison
Proud Aunt to Abigail, Brett and Chloe :-)

June 25, 2009

We are now in Beijing

After a long flight, we are now in Beijing. After working on the luggage for about an our to make sure each bag was under the 50 pound mark, Cindy has now re-organized each of the three bags so that it contains the proper items - our clothes, the New Day donation, and Brett's clothes.

Apparently, I shifted too much of the items between the bags to even out the weight that I messed with Cindy's OCD tendencies.

When we head out for Brett's home orphanage, I guess I will have to shift things around again. This time it should be much easier because the New Day donations will have already been delivered.

For those that followed us on our trip to get Chloe, I posted some pictures of our flight over the North Pole. This time, I didn't take any pictures as it was just too bright outside the plane. With the summer solstice just passing, it is light 24 hours a day, so all that would have been seen is ice.

I will have to say that Continental's in flight entertainment system was a great way to pass the day. It had a selection of about 240 different movies - some old and quite a few new - plus a large number of prime time shows.

As far as we know, our entire flight passed through the N1H1 medical screens without any issues. That was our biggest fear that someone on the plane would be sick causing others, including us to be placed into quarantine.

Tomorrow, we are off to New Day Foster Home to meet Brett. We will post pictures in our next update.


June 22, 2009

Transitioning . . .

Well, we spent our last weekend together as a family of four and look forward to our journey this coming week to bring Brett home. Thank you all for the many gifts, donations for New Day, and prayers!

While I prepare to go through a box of tissue after my parents pick up the girls, I know they are in good hands. Granny, Grandpa, Nana, Papa, and Aunt Jen have all planned great adventures and surprises.
Granny is making the girls a nice calendar filled with activities and giving them a chance to mark the days until our return, Nana has marked out where the new Slip and Slide will go, and Aunt Jen has plans for a Luau. In between, we'll be checking in and Skyping with them from China.

We hope you will all follow our journey. Here is our general schedule:

Jun24th: Leave Orlando
June 25th: Arrive in Beijing
June 26th-27th: Visit New Day and deliver our donations
June 28th: Leave for Henan
June 29th: Family Day
June 30th: Official Adoption Day
July 3rd: Leave for Guangzhou
July 4th-10th: Brett's physical, Consulate appointment, etc.
July 10th: Leave Guangzhou
July 11th: Arrive home in Orlando at 9:05am!!!!

June 16, 2009

Happy Birthday/Father's Day!

Happy Birthday and Happy Father’s Day to my best friend! For those who know us well, it isn’t a secret that my husband has the patience of a saint. I’m definitely strong-willed and stubborn at times. My mother often reminds me, “You better hold on to him.” Russ loves me unconditionally. Above all, he is the best Daddy! He plays on the floor, gives the girls baths, and even plays dress-up. I fall in love more and more with him each day.
Russ, I thank God for you each day!